Shopper Report: What do Retailers Need to Know About Millennials?


Heather Hudson

May 25, 2021

Want your store to take off in a big way? Get the attention of millennials.

Comprising 27% of the Canadian population (more than 10 million people), this juggernaut generation can be found in their mid-20s to late-30s: aka prime buying years. From homes to restaurant meals to technology to clothing, millennial spending habits are responsible for much of our economy.

Want to know more about who they are and what they want? We’ve rounded up the buying habits you should know about – and share what that means for retailers.

Millennials prefer to shop online.

A global pandemic may have had a little something to do with the absolute explosion in popularity of e-commerce. But millennials were already accounting for a lot of online purchases, pre-COVID-19. A Kibo survey conducted in the Spring of 2021 found that:

  • 36% of millennials plan to shop in physical stores less than before
  • 24% of millennials reported that they will likely shop online more than before
  • 55% of millennials cited convenience as their top online shopping benefit
  • 39% of millennials’ purchase decisions are influenced by social media

Millennials spend more on “comfort items” than other generations.

Lavish coffees. Hip restaurants. The latest fashion trends. Takeout. Ride shares. The latest technology. Millennials are known for appreciating the finer things in life. As the first digitally native generation, they are comfortable with all the ways technology can enhance pleasure and make life more convenient. It’s no wonder that millennials are more likely to spend their disposable income on things that make them happy.

Millennials value experiences and services over ownership.

The sharing economy, including peer-to-peer services like Uber and AirBnb is largely fuelled by millennials. Unlike previous generations, millennials are less likely to prioritize owning a car or a home. Armed with nothing more than a smartphone and a credit card, millennials can live a full and varied life without the trappings of a mortgage.

Millennials care about the earth.

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 found that protecting the planet was a top concern before and during COVID-19. Before the pandemic, half of millennials polled had reduced their “fast fashion” purchases and two-thirds were cutting back on single-use plastic and were recycling more. Millennials are clear about wanting: More sustainable products More environmentally responsible packaging A commitment to fair and equitable business practices

Millennials shop around.

According to a 2018 research study, millennials reported being almost twice as likely as Gen Xers to try new, innovative brands instead of sticking with one they consider old and reliable. “Their brand loyalty is low, even if the brand has worked for them in the past. Brands need to move away from the concept of how to ‘win’ customers from competitors and, instead, think about ‘wooing’ them, meeting them in the context of their own needs. The model needs to… be reframed not with loyalty as a conclusion, but with the goal of giving the consumer a reason to connect and return,” wrote Angela Woo, founder of Woo Research in Forbes.

What does this mean for retailers?

When you know what your prospective customers want, you can tailor your retail practices to ensure your store is on the millennial radar. Here are a just a few ways to attract a millennial audience:

Have a high-performing e-commerce store. Millennials are digitally savvy and expect to be able to get information, make a purchase, post a review, and share links online – usually straight from their mobile phones. In fact, nearly $3 out of every $4 spent on online purchases is done through a mobile device. That means your e-commerce store needs to be in the shape of its life. Think:

  • Fast loading times
  • Secure, with an SSL certificate
  • An intuitive design that makes shopping easy
  • Compelling product descriptions
  • Lots of high-res images
  • Product reviews
  • A quick checkout process

Have a social media presence. It seems like anyone under 30 is as likely to learn about a retailer on social media as in real life or a Google search. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even TikTok (for the youngest millennials) are popular platforms for researching and engaging with brands. Pick one or two and connect with your customers with regular, fun, and on-brand content.

Make it dead easy to do business with you. Free shipping. Guest checkouts. Hassle-free returns. Responsive customer service. They all form the basis of establishing a relationship with your millennial customers. Try to anticipate consumer questions and any barriers to a great buying experience. Then figure out ways to have it all figured out so every transaction is smooth and seamless.

Offer flexible payment options. Installment payments have dramatically increased in popularity in recent years, and more and more retailers are getting on board to provide choice to their buyers. Flexible payment options open doors for consumers, empowering them to manage their money in a way that works for them. And BNPL doesn’t just benefit consumers – it’s a great way for retailers to offer value to their customers. PayBright’s options include:

  • Pay in 4: Customers get an instant approval and make 4 biweekly payments for their purchase. Interest free. No hidden fees. No impact to customer credit scores.
  • Pay monthly: Customers enter a few fields of information for approval and make monthly payments for their purchase.

Share your values with your shoppers. Take what you know about millennials, e.g. their desire for comfort and convenience, their preference for experiences over products, and their awareness and commitment to earth-friendly practices, and design your marketing, product choices and placement, and other customer experience to show them you’re aligned. That might mean upgrading your packaging for a more sustainable version, making it more fun to buy their favourite products, and teaming up with an influencer to showcase your store.

The key to connecting with millennials – and any generation – is understanding their habits and looking for ways your store can accommodate them. It’s a modern, responsive way to do business, and one that could really pay off.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an exhaustive review of this topic. The content is not financial or investment advice. No professional relationship of any kind is formed between you and PayBright. While we have obtained or compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. We recommend that you consult your personal finance professional before taking any action related to this information. PayBright is a provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. BNPL providers offer plans with a variety of terms and conditions, including interest rates, fees, and penalties, and have different standards for qualifying for loans. Laws and regulations governing BNPL providers vary by jurisdiction. We recommend that you compare and contrast plans, read the fine print, and conduct detailed research into any BNPL provider before using their services.

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Heather Hudson

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